Museum of Sex in New York

Museum of Sex in New York

The Museum of Sex in New York has taken a subject that is frequently taboo in society and presented it in the form of an educational and informative permanent exhibition in the heart of the city. The museum, known as MoSex, strives to inform the public about the history, evolution and cultural significance of sexuality through the ages. Situated on Fifth Avenue at 27th Street in a two-story building, MoSex attracts people from all walks of life who find the idea of a sex museum quite appealing. Some visitors make their way to the museum due to their fascination with the subject, while others are truly interested in the way sexuality has evolved in our society and that of others.


The Museum of Sex was originally founded in 2002 by Michael Gluck who sought non-profit status for his organization in order to get funding from the New York State Board of Regents. His application was rejected on the grounds that his idea made a mockery of the concept of museums. As such, the museum needed to slap a high entrance fee onto its visitors and initially charged $17. Today, the fee is slightly lower. The museum’s management has worked hard to move away from the idea that this is one giant sex exhibition and, as such, have refused financing from related sites and companies. They rely, instead, on mainstream corporate sponsorship.

The first exhibit of the museum was called “NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America” and was a raging success. Although the initial focus was on sexuality in New York, the museum soon went on to incorporate exhibits from all around the world and throughout the ages. For example, a popular exhibition in the past has been: “Sex Among the Lotus: 2500 Years of Chinese Erotic Obsession”.

What's There to See and Do?

There is no ignoring that this museum is all about sex. It is displayed in various different forms but the overall concept is definitely sexuality and eroticism. MoSex presents the history sexual ideas in a straightforward and even blatant manner, cutting away all the tiptoeing that is so often the case when discussing sex. Visitors should expect to see young couples, seniors and businessmen all examining extremely graphic displays, usually without a hint of embarrassment.

The atmosphere of the museum is sexy and slightly illicit. Lofty heights, minimalist lighting and quirky furniture features such as plush velvet sofas in the shape of inviting lips add to the overall effect. The general message is NOT sex only, however. The curators of the museum have worked very hard to present an exhibition that is educational and historically significant, moving past the idea that sex is something that should only be talked about behind closed doors.

The Ralph Whittington Collection
This is a fascinating collection of sexually related texts that was acquired by the Museum of Sex from the retired curator of the Library of Congress, Ralph Whittington. Whittington began to gather items in the 1970s and came to own one of the biggest collections in the city, including 400 8-mm films, 1,500 magazines, over 100 books, 700 videos and other artifacts such house coins, blow up dolls and many others.

The Harmony Theater
Many New Yorkers are familiar with the Harmony Theater (also known as the Melody Burlesk), a popular establishment in the 1980s and early 90s located in Manhattan. This theater honored the old tradition of striptease but eventually closed down. MoSex displays several artifacts connected to the Harmony Theater, including promotional displays and decorations.

The Lannan Foundation Art Collection
This foundation, devoted to the promotion of the creativity of excellent contemporary artists, donated 19 exceptional pieces of art to the Museum of Sex when it first opened. Included in the collection are works by Gerald Gooch, Scott Miller, Anita Steckel and Louis Renzoni.

MoSex regularly offers exhibitions on a wide variety of subjects relating to the subject of sex and sexuality. At present, exhibits include the following: “Kink –Geography of the Erotic Imagination” – This exhibit is led by the author Katherine Gates who penned “Deviant Desires, Incredibly Strange Sex”. It leads visitors through a hands-on experience that explores the odors, textures and sensations that contribute to our inner fetishes and desires. “Action: Sex and the Moving Image” – This exhibit examines how sex has impacted the media, including films, television and advertising, as well as the internet. It also looks at the sex industry and the way it has contributed to the change in social norms and morals. “Spotlight on the Permanent Collection” – This exhibit showcases a few samples of the Museum of Sex’s permanent collection of 9000 artifacts.

Visiting Museum of Sex in New York City

The Museum of Sex is undoubtedly one of its kind in New York, although several institutions devoted to sex and sexuality can be found throughout the world. MoSex is accessible by public transport and makes a refreshing excursion when visiting New York City. Note that the museum – because of its graphic content – is open to over-18 year olds only. MoSex can easily be considered the most stimulating museum in the city of New York – in more ways than one!

Location: at 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street, New York City, New York.
Phone: 212-689-6337

Click here to visit Museum of Sex in New York official website